Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Test and Protect

Published: 26 May 2020

Information and support for people who are asked to self-isolate because of COVID-19.

Contents
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Test and Protect
How to self-isolate effectively

How to self-isolate effectively

Self-isolation means you should remain at home and shouldn’t go to work, school, public areas or use public transport. You shouldn’t go out to buy food or other essentials.  You must stay at home.

Visit NHS Inform to find detailed information about the steps you need to take to self-isolate effectively. You can always check NHS Inform for the most up-to-date health information and advice.

Self-isolating will sometimes be difficult for many of us, and not everyone will be able to follow all of the guidance, all of the time. The two most important things for everyone who is self-isolating to always do are:

  • stay at home and do not leave the place you live, and
  • follow the physical distancing and hygiene advice for coronavirus.

The good hygiene advice for coronavirus should always apply:

  • wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds regularly, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser if your hands aren’t visibly dirty;
  • catch your coughs or sneezes in a disposable tissue and put it in the bin, or catch them in the crook of your elbow (NOT your hand) if you can’t reach a tissue, and then wash your hands; and
  • avoid touching your face, and especially your mouth, nose or eyes.

While you are self-isolating, try to physically separate yourself from other people in your home as much as you can if they are not self-isolating. If you’re able to, stay in a different room, ensuring it is well-ventilated and ideally has a window you can open. Try to keep the window open as much as possible to help with ventilation and air flow. At night, you should sleep alone in a separate bed if you can.

If you can’t stay in a separate room, or you need to leave your room, try to stay 2 metres (6 feet, or 3 steps) away from other people in the home if they are not self-isolating.  Spend as little time as possible in shared areas such as your sitting room, kitchen or bathrooms and keep these areas well ventilated. If you do share a kitchen, avoid using it while others are present. If you can, use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household. If you do need to share a toilet and bathroom, wipe clean any surfaces you come in contact with. After you wash your hands, dry them with a separate towel from others in your home. 

Use a household cleaner that’s active against viruses and bacteria to clean your kitchen, bathroom and other surfaces throughout the house every day. Common household products like detergents and bleach are effective for this. Follow the safety guidance for any cleaning products you use.

If you have a garden or outdoor space where you live, you can use that to go outside while you self-isolate. You should take extra care to stay at least 2 metres (6 feet, or 3 steps) away from other people who might pass by or look into your garden – for example, people walking on the street or neighbours in their own garden.